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To The World - Acts 2:47

Taught on | Topic: Evangelism | Keywords: gospel, good news, church, early church, evangelism, worship, witness, predestination, human volition, salvation, heaven, hell

The word gospel means good news—and to the Christian, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news. For some, however, it is the best-kept secret. As we study the early church in Acts 2, we find out what happens when the called ones become the sent ones.

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11/15/2015
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To The World
Acts 2:47
Skip Heitzig
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The word gospel means good news—and to the Christian, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news. For some, however, it is the best-kept secret. As we study the early church in Acts 2, we find out what happens when the called ones become the sent ones.
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Where Lives Are Changed

Where Lives Are Changed

The good, the bad, and the ugly--change is a natural part of life. Whatever you're going through or whatever season of life you're in, we want to go through it with you. We're here for you! Learn more about Calvary Albuquerque in our series Where Lives Are Changed.

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Study Guide

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Connect Group Recap: November 15, 2015
Teacher: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: To the World
Text: Acts 2:47

Path

The word gospel means good news—in fact, it's the best news. For some Christians, however, it is the best-kept secret. Evangelism is making sure that the best news doesn't become the best-kept secret. In this message, Pastor Skip taught us how to deliver the most important news the world can hear. His path was as follows:
    1. It's a Divine Work
    2. It's a Double Work
    3. It's a Daily Work
Points

What happens when the called ones become the sent ones? They evangelize. The early church was saved souls wanting to see more souls saved.

It's a Divine Work
  • Evangelism is God's work: "The Lord added..." (Acts 2:47).
  • But evangelism is also a human cooperation with divine intention, the intersection between divine predestination and human volition. As J.I. Packer stated, "It is a matter, not merely of informing, but also of inviting."
  • Three forms of New Testament evangelism:
    • Mass evangelism: an evangelist speaking to a crowd
    • Personal evangelism: person-to-person witnessing
    • Local church evangelism: a natural outpouring of a healthy church—inviting others to hear the good news
  • In all three, there is a cycle: worship leads to witness and witness leads to worship.
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:5-8 shows how the gospel came to people and through people; they were both receivers and transmitters.
It's a Double Work
  • Notice that the Lord was adding to the church "those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47). There is a twofold work: adding and saving.
  • God didn't add people to the church without saving them, and He didn't save them without adding them to the church. Salvation and church membership go together.
  • When a person is saved, he or she belongs to God, and God wants them to belong to the church.
  • Evangelism helps goats become sheep. Because of this, the church should be more concerned about feeding the sheep than entertaining the goats.
It's a Daily Work
  • Notice that the Lord added people "daily" (Acts 2:47).
  • Evangelism is not a sporadic event; it is a daily, lifelong event—part of our mission.
  • There are never enough saved people; the church is never full enough. Put another way, there are never too many people in heaven.
  • Bishop J.C. Ryle reminds us: "The highest form of selfishness is that of the man who is content to go to heaven alone."
  • Here's the process: God makes goats into sheep through evangelism and the work of His Spirit; those new sheep grow in Him and then go out and help Him make more goats into sheep.
  • There are some religions willing to give their own life and take the lives of others for a lie. Are you as willing to go all in for the truth as others are willing to do for a lie?
Practice

Connect Up: How does evangelism draw you closer to God? What spiritual benefits come from reaching out to the lost?

Connect In: Read 1 Thessalonians 1:5-8. How does evangelism bring Christians together? What does a growing church tell you about that church?

Connect Out: Read Romans 8:30. Pastor Skip reminded us that if there were only twelve Christians on the earth and they led one person to Jesus Christ every year, there'd be twenty-four believers in two years, forty-eight in year three years, and so on—exponential growth. If the process continued, it would take fewer than thirty years to evangelize the world. How does this simple fact motivate you? What can you do to share the gospel with one person this year? Think of a person you can invite to church or share the gospel with. Take a moment to pray for them, then follow through. As Pastor Skip reminded us, evangelism happens when called-out ones become sent-out ones.

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Most of us know the gospel as the good news
      1. We must assure the gospel does not become our best-kept secret
      2. We have to tell others about it
    2. How did the early church deal with the gospel?
      1. They were a learning church (see Acts 2:42)
      2. They were a loving church (see Acts 2:42)
      3. They were a giving church (see Acts 2:45-46)
      4. They were an evangelic church (see Acts 2:47)
    3. Evangelism happens when called out ones become sent ones
      1. Ekklésia = an assembly, congregation, church (see Matthew 16:18)
      2. Apostolos = a messenger, one sent on a mission, an apostle
      3. The called out ones continuously became the sent out ones (see Acts 4:33; 5:42; 8:4)
      4. The worshipers became witnesses
    4. The early church were saved souls wanting to see more souls saved
    5. In a world that seems like it is burning down, what should the church be doing?
  2. It's a Divine Work
    1. The Lord added to the church
      1. There was an outside force that added to their numbers besides what they were doing themselves (see Acts 2:41)
      2. The someone was God
    2. Evangelism is God's work
      1. Romans 8:30
      2. Evangelism is our cooperation with God's operation
        1. To save people
        2. God does not want anyone to perish (see 2 Peter 3:9)
    3. Evangelism is the intersection of divine predestination and human volition
      1. We are chosen in Christ (see Ephesians 1:4)
      2. We also choose Christ
      3. Should we actually invite people to come to Christ?
        1. Some think we should not because it places too much emphasis on the person rather than God doing the calling
        2. John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:11
    4. Three types of evangelism in the New Testament
      1. Mass evangelism
        1. Jesus invited crowds of people to follow Him (see Matthew 11:28)
        2. Peter on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:38-41)
        3. Paul used mass evangelism (see Acts 14; 17:22-34)
      2. Personal evangelism
        1. One on one through personal relationships
        2. Jesus did this in the New Testament as well (see John 4:5-30)
        3. Philip witnessed to the Ethiopian (see Acts 8:26-39)
        4. It is our privilege to share with people how to know Jesus
      3. Local church evangelism
        1. Natural outreach of the local church
        2. Cycle of evangelism
          1. Worship should lead to witness
          2. Witness should lead to worship
        3. I Thessalonians 1:5-8
        4. Exécheó = to sound forth
  3. It's a Double Work
    1. God added to the church those who were being saved
      1. Salvation and belonging to a church go hand in hand (see Acts 5:14)
      2. Believers are added to the Lord, and the Lord adds them to the church
    2. The church is a group of saved people
      1. Saved people need to be fed and equipped to reach unsaved people
      2. The church exists primarily to worship God and equip believers
  4. It's a Daily Work
    1. The Lord added to the church daily (see Acts 4:4)
      1. Someone back then was counting
      2. There are never enough saved people (see Luke 14:23)
    2. It is our opportunity to fill the house for eternity
      1. "The highest form of selfishness is that of the man who is content to go to heaven alone" —J.C. Ryle
      2. We plant and sow the seed of the gospel to those who are literally standing in line to go to hell
    3. Are you willing to do for the truth what others are willing to do for a lie?
  5. Closing
    1. We must not let the best message become the world's best-kept secret
    2. Gospel means God's story, good news

Figures referenced: Barna Research Group, John Currier, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, Billy Graham, John F. Kennedy, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, J.I. Packer, J.C. Ryle, John Stott, Billy Sunday, John Wesley, George Whitefield

Greek words: apostolos, ekklésia, exécheó

Cross references: Matthew 11:28; 16:18; Luke 14:23; John 1:12; 4:5-30; Acts 2:38-42, 45-47; 4:4, 33; 5:14, 42; 8:4, 26-39; 14; 17:22-34; Romans 8:30; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-8; 2 Peter 3:9


Transcript

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Hello and welcome to this teaching from Skip Heitzig, pastor of Calvary Albuquerque. As these messages are shared worldwide, our prayer is that they would lead others to the love of Christ. If this message inspires you to share your faith, we'd like to know. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving.

In our series, Where Lives Are Changed, we learn about Calvary Albuquerque and see how God's using Calvary to change lives. Part of our mission is to extend hope to a hurting world by proclaiming the gospel and demonstrating Christ's love. Now turn in your Bible to Acts chapter two as Skip begins the message, "To The World."

Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to Acts chapter two. I know you've heard that before, Acts chapter two as well as First Thessalonians chapter one. First Thessalonians One and Acts chapter two.

Of course, as we begin our service, our hearts go out this week to the citizens of Paris, France. What they have undergone in the last 48 hours is an act of terrorism, several of them in their city, where hundreds are dead and more are suffering. And their country is almost on lockdown because of it. And we'll begin, and we'll pray for them. But I was thinking that perhaps in the providence of God, this message is even more timely for us as we consider our task as believers and the need to get the truth into the hearts of people. Let's pray.

Father, we do pray for those who, in Paris, have been affected this week horrifically by these groups who have acted in the name of God to cause catastrophe and mayhem and suffering. I pray, Lord, they would see the difference through the lives of your people who might come alongside them this week and share love with them, and support for them, and truth with them, and comfort to them.

Lord, we do pray you would comfort them and help them and support them during this time. Give their government and other governments wisdom in how to deal with what is happening more and more in our world with these groups. Give us stamina in these days to stand up for truth, but to do it in love and in compassion. In Jesus' name, amen.

One cannot think of the word "evangelism" in our century without thinking of the name of one person, Dr. Billy Graham. And that is because Dr. Billy Graham has personally proclaimed the gospel to more people in the world than any other person who has ever lived.

But there's an interesting story about Dr. Graham. When he was younger, he was in a small town, and he was asking directions to a post office. He found a boy and he said, tell me how to get to the post office. After getting directions from that boy, he then invited him to come to his crusade that evening. He says, I'll be preaching. I invite you to come. I'm going to be telling everyone how to get to heaven.

The little boy smiled and he said, I don't think I'll be coming. You don't even know how to get to the post office.

[LAUGHTER]

Now, that's a classic comeback.

Most of us know that the word "gospel" means good news. It is the good news. It is the great news. It's the grand news. It is, in fact, the world's best news ever. But what we must guard against is that the gospel doesn't become our best-kept secret, that we get the message out.

Some years back, a man was convicted for murder. His name was John Currier. He was sentenced to life in prison. Later on, he was put on a work farm outside of Nashville, Tennessee. He served there 20 years. Eventually his sentence was terminated, and a letter was sent-- supposedly sent-- to release him from prison. He never got the message. Whatever it was, something happened where the message didn't get through to him, so he kept working at that place for another 10 years.

Can you imagine? Can you imagine getting or having sent the most important message of your life, and never getting the message? It never gets delivered. Year after year, you never get the message.

How did the early church deal with the message, the good news, the gospel, God's best message ever? How did they handle it? What did they do? What was their relationship to the world around them?

We have already learned the last few weeks that they were, number one, a learning church. They devoted themselves to the apostles' doctrine, chapter two, verse 42. So they were a learning church. Second, we have discovered they were a loving church. They devoted themselves to the fellowship with one another. So they were a learning church and they were a loving church.

And they were also a giving church. In chapter two, verse 45 and 46, they generously gave of their time and talent and treasure. They pooled their resources, and they made sure that everyone was taken care of in their midst.

However, that is not a complete picture. If we were to stop there, we would get the wrong impression of what the church life was like. Because everything I just described describes their interior life, not their exterior life. We need another verse to balance it all out, and that is found in verse 47.

And yes, once again we will look at one verse, in fact one half of one verse, verse 47. The second statement says, and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Now, that balances everything out. Without that, we would get the wrong impression of what they were like. Without that verse, we might tend to think that they were only interested in studying and praying and hanging out with each other.

In fact, it would be a Christian ghetto without verse 47. They would be all about themselves and not about the world. But verse 47 tells us that there was evangelism going on in their midst.

Now, we have a mission statement. We've been exploring it the last several weeks. And we wanted to show you the biblical underpinnings of what we believe, that it is indeed a biblical vision for God's people. And so by now you know it, and you've heard it so many times, that we pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world. We do that with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.

To the world-- that's evangelism. Evangelism happens when called-out ones become sent-out ones. Most of you know that the word "church" in the New Testament is the Greek word ekklesia. Jesus said, I will build my church, ekklesia, called-out ones.

Another term in the New Testament is sent-out ones, apostelos or apostelo-- to send out, apostle. So when called-out ones become sent-out ones, you have evangelism. And you cannot read the book of Acts without discovering that the called-out ones over and over again became sent-out ones, all throughout Jerusalem and Judea and wherever they were scattered, even in the midst of persecution.

I want you to notice a couple of those instances. So over in chapter four, verse 33, you'll notice it says, and with great power, the apostles, the sent-out ones, gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. Acts chapter five, verse 42-- and daily in the temple and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Now Acts chapter eight, in verse four, where the persecution has now involved them all-- they were scattered everywhere because of it. Acts eight, verse four-- those who were scattered went everywhere, preaching the Word.

So what have we discovered? We've discovered that the worshippers became witnesses. They were worshiping, but they were also witnessing. They were praising, but they were also proclaiming.

So if I were to give you a single sentence to describe the early church's total activity, it would be, the early church were saved souls wanting to see more souls saved. They were saved souls wanting to see more souls saved.

Some of you may know that D.L. Moody was an evangelist. Besides pastoring the Moody church, he was an evangelist. He loved to see souls saved, and he would often call people to make a decision to follow Christ. Well, not everybody in his church had that same passion as he did.

And in a sermon, he said, you know, sometimes the church reminds me of firemen straightening pictures on the walls of a burning house. It's a ludicrous picture, right? Firemen go in there. The house is burning down. And one pauses and goes, you know, that picture needs to be straightened up a little bit, and I think a different color would be nice here. Are you kidding? The house is burning down.

So in a world that seems like it's burning down, what ought the church to be doing? What ought we to be like? Well, we ought to be out giving the good news, the best news, the great news, if indeed to us it is great.

Well, I'd like you to notice, in verse 47, three aspects of their work of evangelism. First of all, it's a divine work. Evangelism is a divine work. Notice in verse 47 the words "and the Lord added to the church." It's God's business. Let's call it the family business. We're in the family of God. What's the family business? This is the family business. The Lord added to the church.

Now I'd like you to go back just a couple of verses. Look at verse 41. Notice how it's written. 3,000 souls were added to them. Who is the "them"? The "them" is the 120 Christians who had met in the upper room. That's the "them." Now you have 3,000 souls added to the 120, so you have 3,120. That's easy math.

But notice it says in verse 41, 3,000 souls were added to them. That's put in the passive voice, meaning that there was someone or something apart from them doing the adding to them. And now we find in verse 47 who the agent doing the work is. It is God who's doing the adding. The Lord added.

So evangelism is God's work. He uses his people to do it. He uses their witness to do it. But He does the work. Romans chapter 8, verse 30-- moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called. And whom He called, these He also justified. And whom He justified, these He also glorified. Five times in a single verse, we are told that from beginning to end, salvation is God's work.

So then evangelism is our cooperation with God's operation. It is human cooperation with the divine intention. And what is the divine intention? To save people. Right? It says in Second Peter three, God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Now listen to this carefully. I want you to kind of get this in your theological heads and hearts. Evangelism is the intersection-- the coming together, the intersection-- of divine predestination and human volition. See, we know the Bible says that God selects people. He predestines them to be saved. You're chosen in Christ-- Ephesians one-- before the foundations of the earth. That's a biblical doctrine. Most of us know that and believe that. God chooses, and it happens before we even came on the scene.

But then there is the human aspect, the choice, the cooperation with God, the human volition, the decision to follow Christ. Evangelism is the intersection of divine predestination with human choice, human volition.

So that brings up a question. Should we actually invite people to come to Christ? Should there be an invitation? Should we ask people to make a decision, ask them to receive Jesus?

I bring up the question because the hard-core ardent Calvinist would say, absolutely not. That's God's work. It is a sovereign work. You don't want to prod or push people into it. You let God do that.

I was preaching one time at a different location, and I called people forward, prayed with them, had an altar call. And after the service, somebody approached me and said, you shouldn't do that. You shouldn't do an altar call. You put too much onus on the person making the choice rather than the sovereign God doing the calling.

I said, well, can't sovereign God choose and use the means of a preacher giving them the gospel and calling them to make a choice? I mean, couldn't you have both? Well, he didn't like that.

I said, young man, you don't have a problem with me. You have a problem with the Apostle John, frankly. He said, what do you mean, the Apostle John? I said, well, John viewed Jesus' life. He was in the inside group. And after seeing his life, he said this. As many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become children of God to as many who would believe in His name.

A few years back, I had the distinct privilege of eating dinner with Dr. Billy Graham at his house. And through the evening, I just had so many questions, because I knew that he had met with the who's who in the political world over the years, kings and queens, and presidents and prime ministers, and theologians. And I was asking him about his time with John F. Kennedy and his time preaching in London. And I talked about Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of my favorite authors that I love to read-- great preacher.

And he said, I'd like to tell you a story about him. I thought, well, I'm all ears. He said, I did a crusade in London. And he said, as I was getting ready to do the crusade, I asked Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the pastor of Westminster Chapel, to be a part of our crusade and to support it.

And he leaned in and he said, Billy, I will do it under one condition-- that you don't invite people forward to receive Christ. If you don't do that, I will get behind you. If you do that, I won't do it. He says, I'm going to call people forward. And so Lloyd-Jones didn't get involved.

And when I heard this story, I so wished that Lloyd-Jones would have been around long enough to read J.I. Packer's seminal work on this very subject, called Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, in which he writes, it is a matter not of merely informing people but also of inviting people-- inviting them.

Invite them to make a decision to follow Christ, because evangelism is the intersection between divine sovereign predestination and human volition. Paul said in Second Corinthians five, knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.

Now, what forms of evangelism do we find in the New Testament? Let me suggest three. Number one, mass evangelism. You go, wait a minute. Mass evangelism? That was started with guys like Wesley and Whitefield, or Jonathan Edwards here in this country, or Finney, or Moody. No, actually I think you have to go back to the New Testament. I think you have to go back to the time of Jesus, who had crowds around him in Galilee.

And he said to the crowds in Galilee, come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. That's an invitation to follow Him, made by Jesus to the crowd en masse.

I'm very thankful for mass evangelism. It's how I responded. It's why I'm here today, because of somebody who had the boldness and gifting to share the gospel at a public event, and which I was able to see on a television broadcast.

Then we have Peter here on the day of Pentecost. Peter speaks to the crowd in mass evangelism. He says, repent. Be saved from this perverse generation-- his words here in Acts two. And 3,000 souls were added to them. That's mass evangelism.

Paul, in the book of Acts, chapter 14, in the city of Lystra, later on Acts 17 in Athens, there was a private as well as a public evangelism. So mass evangelism.

Now, later on came Whitefield and Wesley in England, and other people here in the United States like Finney and Edwards, Billy Sunday, Dwight L. Moody, Billy Graham. I mentioned that Dwight L. Moody loved evangelism, and he would call people to make a choice. And after one of his services, a lady came up to him and said, Mr. Moody, I don't like the way you do evangelism.

And he was very classy. He said, well, I'm actually, to be honest with you, not too fond of it myself. I don't think I do a great job myself. But he said, tell me, ma'am. How do you do it? We'll do it your way. And she said, I don't do it. Then he smiled and he said, well, then I would say I like the way I do it better than the way you don't do it.

It's a very good response. I don't think you have the right to criticize unless you do it, and you do it effectively. So mass evangelism is one way in the New Testament it was done.

A second way it was done is what you and I are most used to. This is for us now. This is what we do mostly, and that is personal evangelism, one on one. You build a relationship with someone. And whether you strike up a conversation or over time, as they see your life and you have the opportunity to share with them, you share with them personally how to know the Lord.

Jesus did that in the New Testament. He personally met with the woman at the well in John four and had a conversation with her, and she responded favorably. And she believed in Him, it says. And then she went out, and she told the townspeople the same message.

Also Philip personally evangelized the Ethiopian eunuch as he joined himself to that chariot in Acts chapter eight. That is our responsibility. Actually, a better word would be "privilege." It's our privilege to share with people, our friends, our neighbors, our relatives, people we work with, how to come to know Jesus Christ.

And by the way, let me suggest-- because I know people go, oh, I hate sermons like this because I'm really bad at this stuff, and I get embarrassed because I just don't do this. You can be creative with this.

I heard of an ophthalmologist in Dallas, Texas, who performed cataract surgeries. He had an ingenious way to witness. After the surgery, when patients would come back for follow-up exams, and they would have to see if they can read things and see things-- they have to go through a series of tests-- instead of the standard opthalmological line that they had to read-- now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country-- this ophthalmologist switched it out with the words, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

And so he would say, can you read that? What does it say? Say it out loud? God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. And he said invariably patients would say, well, doctor, what is that plan? And he had an opportunity to share. That's creativity.

Another one that I personally know of is a gal named Barb. She used to go to my Bible study in Garden Grove, California, when I taught there years ago. She was a cute little brunette at the time, single, and she was an expert pool player. I never met anybody who could beat her in a game of pool. It's what she was trained at. She was doing it professionally.

So she would go into bars. She would hang out there, and young men would come and try to pick her up. Hey, baby, can I buy you a drink? And she would smile. And she says, tell you what. Let's play a game of pool. The condition is this. If I beat you in pool, you have to listen to what I have to say. If you win, I'll sit and let you buy me a drink. She never lost. She had many opportunities to lead many young suitors to faith in Christ. She brought some of them to the Bible study. That's creativity.

Or you could be like the man last week who came to me after a wedding that I performed-- it was at the reception-- and he said, come over here. And he took me over and introduced me to his wife. And when I got there he said, tell my wife how to get saved.

[LAUGHTER]

So I did. And she did.

[APPLAUSE]

Let me give you a third. There's local church evangelism. And really this is the thought, I believe, of the text before us. It is a combination of, number one, mass evangelism, and number two, personal evangelism. It's local church life.

In the life of the local church, it is the natural outreach. The worshipers become those who are witnessing. That's part of what is going on. It's really the cycle of evangelism. I would define the cycle of evangelism as, worship should lead to witness, and then witness should lead to worship.

Now, the ones who have done the most research on evangelical Christians in our country is the Barna Research Group. They do this every year. They have done it for years. And the Barna researchers look at what Christians believe, what they think, what they do, how they go to church, how they don't go to church, what they do with their faith.

And they have noted this, that 55% of born-again Christians claim to have shared their faith with a non-Christian in the last 12 months. And that's the trend in the last decade. 55% of born-again Christians claim to have shared their faith with a non-Christian in the last 12 months.

Now, they'll also say that 95% of all born-again Christians have never led a person to faith in Christ, but at least most of them are trying-- 55%. Interesting-- the highest rate for evangelism in America, guess where it is. Right here in the western United States. It's the highest activity of evangelism. The lowest evangelistic activity is in the Midwest, so we need to pray for the Midwest and send more people out that way.

Also, I found this fascinating. Whites-- that is, Caucasians-- are less likely to share their faith than blacks or Hispanics. I don't know why we're so reserved, some of us, but those are the stats. I don't really know why.

But I love the way we do it together, and I believe we do it together. You sow seeds. You plant seeds. You water seeds. You tell your friends. You are doing the work of an evangelist out in this community, faithfully in an ongoing way. And then from time to time, you'll invite people to church. And we're all fishing together. You really do the baiting and the casting, and I just throw out the net, and people come.

So it's all of us together doing the work. That's local church evangelism. Now let me show you a great example of that. And that's why I had you turn to First Thessalonians one. Let's scoot over there really quickly.

First Thessalonians chapter one is an excellent example of a New Testament group that actually did this. First Thessalonians chapter one, verse five-- "for our gospels," Paul writes--

First Thessalonians 1:5-- "For our gospel did not come to you in word only but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you have become examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe, for from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth not only in Macedonia and Achaia but also in every place your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything."

Now compare verse five and verse eight. In verse five it says, "Our gospel did not come to you in word only." That is, the gospel did come to them, and the gospel did come to them in word-- it was preached by Paul-- but not only in word, but also in example. He lived it among them. But it came to them.

And then in verse eight it says, "For from you the word of the Lord sounded forth." So in verse five it came to them. In verse eight it flowed through them. That's how it works. What comes to you must flow through you. Otherwise, you just create a Christian ghetto. It's all about what we do when we're together, our little church activities. But not here. Not here.

What happened here is that receivers became transmitters. They received the truth. They believed it to be the good news, so much so that they wanted to tell other people the good news. It flowed to them. It flowed through them.

And by the way, if you look at the words in verse eight, "For from you the word of the Lord sounded forth." "Sounded forth" is one Greek word, exechetai. It's from the word "echo," "echos" in Greek, a reverberation. The word picture is the gospel made a loud boom in their town by Paul's preaching. They received it, and then they reverberated it. They echoed it through the canyons and valleys of the area around them.

Now, I dare say if all churches were faithful like Thessalonica, the world would have been evangelized long ago. John Stott wrote, "I know some churches which haven't seen a convert for 10 years or more. And if they got one, they wouldn't know what to do with him or her or it, so extraordinary would this phenomena appear to be to them."

So that's so much why I love you guys. You love the world. You love the lost of the world. And we work together. So it's a divine work. God does the work. He does the adding. But He also uses us to do it. It's a cooperation.

Second, it's not only a divine work, it's a double work. Look back at verse 47. And the Lord added-- what does it say? To the what? He added to the church. The Lord added to the church those who were being saved.

Now, mark that. He didn't just add them to the church without saving them, and he didn't just save them without adding them to the church. He did both. When He saves you, He adds you to a group called the church.

Down in South America, there's a group of people-- students-- who are disenfranchised with churches. They are disillusioned by what they call organized religion. I've heard that. You've heard that. That's what people say when they don't want to go to church. I'm not into organized religion. They say, we're Christians. But they call themselves Cristianos descolgados, unhooked Christians. We're not hooked to the church. We're not part of that. We're pulling away from that.

I understand their sentiment. However, from a New Testament point of view, salvation and belonging to a church go hand in hand. I want you to see that. Go to chapter five of the book of Acts. Just turn a couple pages, Acts chapter five. Look at verse 14. It bears that out.

Acts 5, verse 14. It says, and believers-- so these are saved people now. Believers were increasingly added. What does it say? To the Lord, not to the church. It says that in chapter two. But here it says, they were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. So who were added? Believers were added. Believers were added to the Lord, but the Lord added the believers to the church.

See how it works? When you come to Christ, you belong to God. But you know what God does with you once He has you? He puts you in a group. He puts you in a family. You're added to the Lord. The Lord adds you to the church. So the true church then is a group of saved people. Let's not hide that fact. We're saved people.

I've never really liked the approach of many churches in what is called a seeker-friendly church, or a seeker-friendly model. Let's be seeker friendly. I'm not saying we should be seeker unfriendly. But the idea of a seeker-friendly church is, let's create an atmosphere that even unbelievers feel comfortable in. So let's not sing about the blood of Jesus Christ or get too gospel-heavy, but let's make unbelievers feel comfortable.

I think it's the wrong approach. What saved people need to do as they gather together is be fed the truth, to be equipped to reach people. I'm glad unbelievers come. But the church exists primarily to worship God and to equip believers. We need to be more concerned about feeding sheep than entertaining goats. I think that is a New Testament model.

[APPLAUSE]

Now, evangelism helps goats become sheep. That's why we go out there. But then the sheep come and are fed. And fed sheep, in turn, go out and evangelize the goats. The goats become sheep. They get fed. Those sheep go out to the goats. The goats become sheep, they go back, and it's that cycle. That's how evangelism works.

So it is a divine work. It's a double work. And third, and I'll close with this, it's a daily work. It says again in verse 47, the Lord added to the church daily. Look at that word "daily," or literally day by day. It says, day by day the Lord added to the church those who were being saved.

I love this. To them, evangelism was not a sporadic event. It wasn't like, it's Evangelism Sunday. Every Sunday was Evangelism Sunday. Every day was Evangelism Day. They're out in the communities. They're all doing the work together. They're sowing the seed. They're watering it. They're living the example. They're bringing people in.

So they started with 120, and then Peter preached. Now there's 3,120. And then later on, as we get into chapter four, it says 5,000 men were added to them. That's not counting women and children, we think. So you have 120 plus 3,000. That's 3,120, plus 5,000 is 8,120. And then it just keeps growing. So pretty soon they drop the how many people are coming in. It just says multitudes and multitudes came.

It tells me two things. Number one, somebody back then was counting. So if you think, well, it's unspiritual to actually give numbers, well, somebody in the book of Acts in the Bible is counting and putting it down. But more than that, it tells me the most important thing is this. There are never enough saved people.

There are never enough saved people. There's always more that need to come. Church is never too full. Well, our church is getting full enough. No, it's not. Listen, we have four services. I've told you this before. Keep bringing them till we have to do eight services. It's a good way to die. It's a good way to go out.

[LAUGHTER]

If that's what it is, what a great way to go. Besides that, I have a number of support staff. We'll have no problem being able to fill that.

Jesus put it this way. In the parable of the wedding feast, Luke chapter 14, Jesus said, go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. There are never too many people in heaven. And it's our opportunity to fill the house for eternity.

J.C. Ryle-- Bishop Ryle-- said the highest form of selfishness is a man who is content to go to heaven alone. I don't know how they figured this out, but somebody tried to figure out how many unsaved people are on the earth. And they came up with whatever their calculations were, but they gave a visual. They said, you could make a line of people. Unsaved people would form a line that would go around the entire globe of the earth 30 times. And the line is growing miles every single day.

So through evangelism, we have the opportunity to plant the seed, to sow the seed of the gospel to those who are literally standing in line to go to hell. And is it possible? Could we actually do this? Could we actually do this?

I want you to listen to this. This is true math. It has been figured that if-- and I don't know how many saved people are in this room. You might say, well, everybody's saved, but I'm not that naive. I don't think everybody necessarily who comes to church really is saved. But let's just assume that there are only 12 believers, saved individuals, on the earth right now, only 12.

But those 12, like the Twelve Apostles, say, let's win one single person to faith in the next 12 months. In the next year, we'll each pray and be part of the process of seeing one person come to faith. So by year two, after the first year, now you have 24, not 12. If they all covenant together, by the same, in year three, you have 48. And as that exponentially increases, within less than 30 years, the entire world will be converted.

It's incredible to think. But I want you to think of this in lieu of what you have heard about going on in Paris and, this last year or two, what's going on with ISIS in the Middle East. The world is watching a religion where there are people involved in an aspect of this religion that are willing to go all-in for what they believe. They are so committed, they will uproot their families and move to the caliphate and just start anew, because they believe in this cause. And they're willing to pay the ultimate price, their own suicide and, unfortunately, the death and carnage of others. The world is watching that.

Here's my question to us. Are you willing to do for the truth what others are willing to do for a lie? Not kill people, not do suicides, but to go all-in for the cause? I so believe that the gospel is transforming-- and it is the best message ever-- that I'm not going to let the best news become the best-kept secret. Are you willing to do for the truth what others are willing to do for a lie?

I want to close with this thought. In Washington, DC, stands a monument, a long, needle-like, tall monument called the Washington Monument, right on the other side of the White House. A few years ago, they did a refurbishing of the Washington Monument. And as they peeled away the wainscoting in the lobby of the Washington Monument, the marble wainscoting, you know what they found? Graffiti, ancient graffiti from the early to mid-1800s.

And they were fascinated that obviously the builders decided to put graffiti on the wall. So if you go there today, you can see this graffiti in the lobby. They preserved it. But I thought you ought to hear what the graffiti says in the Washington Monument. It reads this. Whoever is the human instrument under God in the conversion of one soul erects a monument to his own memory more lofty and enduring than this one.

So next time on the news you see the Washington Monument, or you see it in a photograph, or you go to D.C. and you see that pointing upward, know what was written in the lobby, that whoever is part of the process with God in the conversion of one soul erects a monument to his own memory more lofty and enduring than this.

So we must not let the best message become the world's best-kept secret. We have a story to tell. The word "gospel" in English, by the way, literally means God's story. God's story, and then "godspell," good news.

As we close this morning-- and of course, afterwards we invite you to come to the Hub and view our outreach and missionary tables. But I'm just wondering, as we close, if you personally know the Lord, if you're just going along with the religious church-going thing or if you've made a commitment to Christ, and you know Him as your savior. I'm going to give you that opportunity in a moment.

Let's just pray. Let's bow our heads. Father, we thank you for all that we get to participate in when we hear these incredible songs that have been written, and we're led in such beautiful vocal arrangement and musical arrangement; the video team that informs us and gives us opportunities week by week; the messages of truth that we get to read together and muse upon; and the work of the lost, and sharing hope with the unsaved in our community and in our world.

Lord, it's a special treat you've given us. It's a treasure. Father, you know if there are some who have even come here today, and they don't know Jesus personally. They've rested in their own goodness. They've trusted in their own good works. They believe that their going to a church, and being semi-regular at that, will guarantee them heaven, which none of it will. It's your finished work on the cross, your dying on a cross, your shedding the blood of your Son on our behalf, and Him rising from the grave that gives us hope of life eternal.

As our heads are bowed, if you don't know the Lord but you're willing to give your heart to Him now and to surrender your life to Him here-- or maybe you need to come back to Christ. Maybe you've wandered away, but you've never made it personal, or you need to make it personal now. If so, I'd love to pray for you. I need to know who you are, though. I would like you, as our heads are bowed, for you to raise your hand up in the air. I'll acknowledge you, and I'll pray for you as we close. Just keep it up for a moment.

God bless you, ma'am, and you to my right, sir. In the middle and toward the back and on my right here. Anybody else? Yes sir, right in the middle. In the back, several of you in the back, God bless you guys. Anyone else? Raise those hands up. In the family room and on my left-- awesome. Awesome. You're welcome here. Over here to my right, God bless you, sir, right there. Anyone else? In the balcony, awesome. In the very back.

Father, thank you so much. And I pray-- we pray for them, that new life would begin and grow, and a vibrancy, a whole new way of living, would become their new way of doing life. I pray for the assurance of the forgiveness of sin, hope in their future, confidence in their present. In Jesus' name, amen.

Let's all stand together. Listen, as we close this service, I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hands to do something else. Just as so often Jesus gave people the ability to make a choice for Him-- and He did it publicly from time to time. He would walk up to Matthew in the tax booth, and he publicly called him to follow Him right then and there. And I believe that doing that actually helps those who make the choice to know the day, the hour, and the manner in which they gave their hearts to Christ.

So as we sing this final song, I'm going to ask you to get up from where you're standing, find the nearest aisle, take just a moment. If you're in the balcony, come down the stairs. If you're in the family room, come through the door and just end up right here in the front. I'm going to lead you in a prayer right now, right here, right now, to receive Christ.

So just say "excuse me" if you're in the middle of an aisle, and they might even stand with you, walk with you. But you come and stand right here. And I'll pray with you to give your life to Christ. You make your way. We'll give you time. If you're in the balcony, we'll give you time.

[APPLAUSE]

You can just turn around here. Just turn around this way. Just come right here. Yeah. I'm going to pray with you in a minute. That's good. We'll all huddle in here together. Come on, we're all family. We're all family. I saw hands go up all over this auditorium. You get up and you come. Even if you didn't raise your hand or I didn't acknowledge you, you come. If there's any doubts in your mind, come and get rid of those doubts. Say yes to God, who loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

Come right on up. Awesome. That's beautiful. It's so beautiful. We're so happy you've come.

[APPLAUSE]

So good. So good. Who else? God has been speaking to you. You know He has. Whatever you're feeling right now-- maybe you're thinking, I'll wait a little while longer. Why? Life is so short. No one knows when their last moment will be. God has given you this moment. Take Him up on it. Make the right choice right now. The Bible says, today is the day of salvation. Today is the day.

Great, come right on this way. Your whole family, I love it. That's cool. Beautiful. The most important decision of your life is right here, right now. This is the most important day of your life, is right here. Because this is the day where you realized that you need the God who made you, and you took Him up on His offer. And you received His Son in your heart. And all the past will be forgiven, and He'll give you a brand new life. That's what the Bible says.

So I'm going to lead those of you who have come. I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to ask you to pray this prayer out loud after me. Say these words from your heart. Mean them as you pray them. And you're giving your heart and life to Him. Good, God bless you.

Let's pray together. Say, Lord, I give you my life.

Lord, I give you my life.

I know that I am a sinner.

I know that I'm a sinner.

Please forgive me.

Please forgive me.

I put my trust in Jesus.

I put my trust in Jesus.

I believe that He died on a cross.

I believe that he died on a cross.

That He shed his blood for me and that He rose again from the grave. I turn from my sin. And I turn to Jesus as my savior. I want to follow Him as my Lord. In Jesus' name, amen. Amen.

[APPLAUSE]

Congratulations!

As believers, we are the ambassadors of Christ to the world, pointing others to him and welcoming them to God's family. How will you carry out this mission? Let us know. Email mystory@calvaryabq.org. And just a reminder-- you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for listening to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque.

Additional Messages in this Series

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10/4/2015
completed
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Where Lives Are Changed
Romans 12:1-2
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
"When you're through changing, you're through!" So wrote American author Bruce Barton. It's true, isn't it? We're all changing, all the time, for the better or for the worse. But for the believer, the change is dramatic and eternal. Over the years, we've seen thousands of lives change for the glory of God here at Calvary. Such a privilege is both humbling and inspiring. Let's celebrate together as we consider what this change is all about and how it operates in us.
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10/18/2015
completed
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With One Another
Acts 2:40-47
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Every week, sixty U.S. churches close their doors. The church should never need a reason to gather other than Jesus Himself, and it's at church where we learn how to be a vibrant and effective body of believers. As we study the early church in the book of Acts, we discover that as believers, we can't survive or thrive without fellowship.
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11/1/2015
completed
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We Pursue God...Through Worship
Acts 2; Revelation 4-5
Skip Heitzig
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We live in a world of narcissism—"It's all about me!" To offset our self-worship, we need sovereign worship—"It's all about Him!" As we look at both the early church and the eternal church, we discover the cure for our self-centered culture.
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11/8/2015
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We Pursue God...By the Word
Acts 2:42
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
In a world where biblical illiteracy is rampant, Christians must learn to love the Word. Why? The Word of God does the work of God by the Spirit of God in the lives of the people of God. As we unpack Acts 2:42a, we see the biblical vision of Calvary Albuquerque and discover three decisions we need to make concerning Scripture.
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11/22/2015
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We're Here for You
Acts 2:43-45
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
In an age of low-commitment Christianity, the church is viewed skeptically and is seen as too intrusive. We in the church have an important role to play in changing people's minds, and that comes from making ourselves available and saying, "I'm part of those who belong to Christ, and I am here for you." As we wrap up this series, we discover four steps we can take to improve our availability.
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There are 5 additional messages in this series.